The Fertile Valley
Jesus is direct:
The scribes and Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say, but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23).
We face various temptations during life.
Highly educated people face an added temptation – thinking that their learning helps them to ascend to God with greater ease than the rest of us.
Jesus warns leaders about pride and vanity:
Everything they do is done to attract attention.
It is true that our spiritual tradition speaks of ascending to God:
Moses ascends the mountain. Jesus ascends the mountain. St. John of the Cross published a spiritual classic called the ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel.’
The spiritual tradition is also clear that we have to descend before we ascend:
You wish to scale a mountain, but the good God wants you to descend. He is waiting for you at the bottom of the fertile valley of humility (St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul).
Jesus is waiting for us in the fertile valley – a valley that he descended to when he became man.